Court of Appeal ruling restores affordable housing exemption

A recent Court of Appeal decision has restored the 'vacant building credit' and exempting small sites from affordable housing contributions.

In a ministerial statement in November 2014, housing and planning minister, Brandon Lewis announced that housing developments in England of 10 units or fewer or that were smaller than 1,000 square metres in area would be exempted from making affordable housing contributions.

Lewis also announced that developers would receive a credit in respect of the amount of floorspace of a vacant building being brought back into use or demolished, which could be offset against affordable housing contributions.

Reading Borough Council and its neighbour West Berkshire Council claimed that the new policy would drastically reduce the amount of affordable housing across the country by more than 20 percent and would effect their areas significantly. In July 2015, Mr Justice Holgate backed their arguments and quashed the policy, removing it from the National Planning Policy Guidance (NPPG).

However, in this latest judgement, handed down last week, three judges sitting in the Court of Appeal disagreed with Mr Justice Holgate on all grounds and reversed his decision, winning a legal challenge for the government and reinstating the policy.

The battle may not be over yet. There is still the possibility the matter could go to the Supreme Court for a further last ditch appeal from the councils, in which the latest decision could be challenged.

We'll keep an eye on the latest developments and keep you posted here on our blog.

For further information or to talk to us about your Planning requirements, please contact David Jones.